Scenario method and stakeholder engagement : critical reflections on a climate change scenarios case study

Cairns, George and Ahmed, Iftekhar and Mullett, Jane and Wright, George (2013) Scenario method and stakeholder engagement : critical reflections on a climate change scenarios case study. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 0040-1625

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Abstract

Scenario method is presented in the literature as a means for engaging heterogeneous stakeholder groups to explore climate change futures and to inform policy and planning for adaptation responses. We discuss a case study project investigating possible interactions between climate change impacts and a proposed major port expansion in Australia. The study engaged participants from the private sector, government and environmental groups, with input from college students from the local area. Semi-structured interviews and a scenario workshop were employed, creating individual space for expression of ideas, then a collaborative space for sharing these, exploring differences of perception and meaning, and developing a set of possible and plausible scenarios. Whilst the workshop resulted in consensus on key issues and proposed actions, intended to inform policy formation and planning, there was an unforeseen lack of short term follow up and of the groups working more closely together. We discuss the reasons for this through reflective critical analysis of both our own process and of contingent factors in the wider contextual environment. We conclude that the basic scenario approach is valuable, but does not itself act as a catalyst for effecting change when multiple agencies, interests and agendas and strong contingent factors are present.